by David Salman
Gardening in the arid climates of western North America has always been a challenge. Of all the factors that affect plant cultivation out west, the lack of moisture and limited water resources are two of our foremost challenges.
Back in the early 1980's, to address the lack of water issue and promote water conservation, the concept of Xeriscaping was introduced. With over 35 years of experience gardening in the high desert of northern New Mexico, I've used these principles as guideposts to make myself and other gardeners more successful in our gardening and landscaping efforts.
The Importance of Eco-Friendly Xeriscaping
Based on hands-on learning, I have fine-tuned and modified the original tenants of xeriscaping to create the "The High Country Gardens Principles of Eco-Friendly Xeriscaping" (listed below at the end of this blog). All of these principles are applicable and should be used in gardens and landscapes all across the US, not just the western half of the country.
But Principle #7, "Water Harvesting" is obviously not a big concern for regions that receive ample precipitation. Yet, it's still essential that gardeners focus on their water resources by protecting water quality that can be adversely affected by gardening and landscaping.
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24-36„ tall x 15„ wide. The Richfield form of Eaton‚s Beardtongue was selected for its overall vigor and flower production. It blooms in early to mid-spring bloomin...Learn MoreFirecracker Penstemon Richfield Strain Richfield Strain Firecracker Beardtongue Penstemon eatonii Richfield StrainAs low as $11.99Per Plant - 5" Deep Pot24-36" tall x 15" wide. The Richfield form of Eaton's Beardtongue was selected for its overall vigor and flower production. It blooms in early to mid-spring blooming with tall spikes of brilliant red flowers. Drought resistant/drought tolerant plant (xeric).
‚Blut‚ is one of the very best cold hardy Ice Plants. With its vigorous growth habit, durable evergreen foliage and summer-long display of deep magenta-red flowers, it is...Learn MoreBlut Ice Plant Blut Ice Plant Delosperma ashtonii BlutAs low as $8.99 Sale $7.19Per Plant - 2.5" Pot'Blut' is one of the very best cold hardy Ice Plants. With its vigorous growth habit, durable evergreen foliage and summer-long display of deep magenta-red flowers, it is an invaluable groundcover. Drought resistant/drought tolerant plant (xeric).
Our Jumbo Waterwise Pre-Planned Garden has been a bestseller for decades! Perfect for hot, dry, sunny gardens, this eye-catching combination of long-blooming perennials will light up...Learn MoreJumbo Waterwise Pre-Planned Garden Jumbo Waterwise Pre-Planned GardenAs low as $225.99 Sale $180.79Per Garden of 18Our Jumbo Waterwise Pre-Planned Garden has been a bestseller for decades! Perfect for hot, dry, sunny gardens, this eye-catching combination of long-blooming perennials will light up the landscape with bright, clear colors. Grow more flowers and foliage while using less water. Easy-care plants feature inedible foliage to keep rabbits and deer away. Large garden of 27 plants covers 190 sq ft, small garden of 18 plants covers 100 sq ft. This Pre-Planned Garden comes with a garden layout map to make planting easy. (For gardeners in coastal CA, OR, and WA, plant the Jumbo Waterwise Pre-Planned Garden For The West Coast)
- Reducing or eliminating water run-off contaminated with chemical fertilizers and insecticides. Lawns are the primary source of this type of pollution.
- Slowing the velocity of stormwater run-off to prevent the erosion and riparian habitat damage so to allow it to soak into the ground to recharge aquifers. Rain gardens are recommended for this problem.
Along with oxygen, water is essential for life on our planet. And it's our most valuable, irreplaceable resource. We must protect our surface and groundwater resources by:
Chemical use on lawns is the #1 source of water pollution from residential and commercial landscapes.
Fertilizers are highly soluble and the nitrogen and phosphorous contained in these fertilizers cause damaging algal bloom in our ponds and lakes, thus contaminating our drinking water sources. And nitrogen that seeps into our water tables is highly detrimental to our health and the health of our pets and farm animals.
Just say "NO" to weed-n-feed lawn fertilizers! (As of 2012, these combination fertilizer/pesticide products were banned in Canada because of health concerns.) Reject chemical lawn care and only use organic or natural fertilizers and pesticides (if needed) to keep your lawn healthy. And the same goes for the rest of our yards.
Garden naturally and organically, avoiding chemical fertilizers and toxic insecticides/herbicides. The TV adds make these garden chemicals seem so safe, but the hidden damage from extended use is long-term and insidious.
Rain gardens are a practical and beautiful way to take water from roof run-off and allow it to be cleansed by plant roots as it soaks into the soil. By using plants that tolerant to fluctuating wet/dry soil moisture to plant shallow depressions, clean water can percolate down into our water tables to recharge our wells and eliminate erosion and damage to riparian habitats along our streams and rivers.
Learn How to Build a Rain Garden In Detail
"The High Country Gardens Principles of Eco-Friendly Xeriscaping"
Save yourself time, effort and money while enhancing the environment using simple these principles.
- Planning and Design
- Use a wide diversity of plants that create habitat for songbirds and provide nectar and pollen for pollinators.
- Design for low maintenance.
- Plant deciduous trees to shade the house and conserve energy.
- Group plants by water needs.
- Care for your lawn organically.
- Use groundcovers where it’s too shady for grass.
- Use xeric native and selected Old World grasses/sedges to create low water lawns.
- Use native and Old-World plants best suited to your soil, climate and growing conditions; create resiliency in your landscape.
- Your goal is to maintain a healthy, living soil by using organic composts and fertilizers, not chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
- Use mulches to save water, reduce weeding, and improve transplanting success.
- Use efficient methods such as drip irrigation and soaker hoses for flower beds.
- Water more deeply and less frequently.
- Direct water onto your landscape, not the street/storm drains.
- Use rain gardens in wetter climates.
- Use organic and natural products where ever possible.
- Fertilize in the fall.
- Leave perennials and ornamental grasses standing over the winter.
- Check and repair irrigation systems each spring.
Text and Photos by Founder and Chief Horticulturist David Salman.
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